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Why We Need To Legalize Marijuana From The Perspective Of A Non-Smoker

I have no ulterior motive in my argument as to why marijuana should be legalized. I've never tried it and its illegality is not what's holding me back. I'm a control freak; I don't like anything that prohibits my ability to overanalyze every action I take. Maybe it would even benefit me to mellow out a bit, but still, weed is not for me.

Over the years, I've come to realize the illegal status of marijuana isn't just useless anymore; it's immoral. I can already hear the loud thuds of keyboards banging out responses in the comments section before I even have a chance to get my arguments out. No doubt someone will write something along the lines of, “Weed ruins lives! You irresponsible ass!”

I'm sure some people's lives are indeed ruined by weed. But do you know what else ruins lives? Alcohol. Banning alcohol didn't last. Because although alcohol is a huge factor in car accidents, assaults and death, it's also a social drug that helps people have a great time.

Being an alcoholic is legal, but I would prefer the company of a pothead any day. Honestly, which would you rather? A friend who muses the origin of the universe as you both enjoy chips on the couch while watching TV, or a friend who smashes your TV and vomits on your couch while swearing at you?

People sometimes turn to a vice to let loose. Prohibition didn't stop people from acting on that desire; it just meant they would have to obtain it illegally.The result is an influx in power to illegal brokers of other, less savory activities. In the Prohibition era, that meant gangs in US cities that brought terror into our streets.

In the modern era, although domestic drug violence still exists, Mexico's citizens take the brunt of that violence as its criminal element fills America's high demand for illegal product. Thousands die as a consequence.

No matter what, we the people will want drugs, and whatever the people want makes money. You might not like it, but that's the reality. So why don't we take away revenue stream from ruthless criminals and give it back to the people?

Taxing weed like we tax cigarettes would bring much needed revenue into our economy. Take that drug money and use it to support rehabilitation facilities for addicts who are seeking help. It would also boost our economy in the private sector, opening up a new legitimate avenue for entrepreneurs.

It's not like the commercial sector isn't already marketing to this demographic anyway. If the name of Jack In The Box's menu item, “Jack's Munchie Meals,” isn't evident enough for you, watch the commercials that promote them.

It would also take a burden off of our overcrowded prison system. Tragedies like that of Jonathan Magbie, a quadriplegic who died in his prison cell after being incarcerated for pot possession, are disgusting and inexcusable. Why are we filling our penitentiaries with nonviolent offenders at the expense of letting rapists and murderers walk early?

CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta is one of those finally challenging the status quo on this issue. He reported in his piece, “Why I Changed My Mind on Weed,” that pot became a class one substance without any proof that it should be.

However, because of its class one status, all studies are biased towards searching for its ill affects rather than getting a clear view of the whole picture, which includes its benefits.

Pot isn't just a good time; for some, it's a lifesaver. Who has the right to condemn a child to thousands of seizures or a senior citizen to an excruciating crawl to the grave just because they disapprove of a few stoners' lifestyle choices? Imagine you have a rare disorder that no medication works for and weed is the only answer. It's called empathy.

Many argue that's what prescription medications are for. Each prescription drug takes years of development in a lab and years of clinical trials before becoming available to the people who need it. It takes millions of dollars to develop anything. There is no commercial interest in developing a specific medication for every rare disorder.

Pharmaceutical companies aren't charities; it isn't logical to expect them to create medications that won't be worth the financial investment required in their creation, no matter the individual lives that could be saved.

As far as the schism in social attitudes between prescription meds and marijuana, it blows my mind that blindness is considered a reasonable side-effect risk for an erectile dysfunction medication, but craving cookies while recovering from a broken back is unacceptable.

FYI, people crave cookies without weed (America's obesity statistics aren't reefer's fault). No one gets cancer so they can use it as an excuse to light up. Just let them have this small comfort at the very least.

And for those who consume marijuana for recreational uses? So what? They aren't hurting anybody. For those who say they're hurting themselves because pot turns you into a lazy burnout, some of the most productive people I know regularly tango with Mary Jane.

I have a suspicion that stoners who live up to that stereotype had a personality predisposed to that behavior; the weed just enhances it.

Not all smokers are the same. Pot doesn't limit itself to a specific race, gender, sexual orientation or economic status. Yes, there are high school dropouts, but there are also Ivy League students. We shouldn't live under the false assumption that if pot is legalized, everyone will automatically transform into The Dude.

It's time that the hysteria over marijuana ends. Treating weed like it's on the same level as crack and meth takes credibility away when explaining the dangers of crack and meth. Life isn't black and white, and neither is drug use. If the shades of gray aren't acknowledged, we will never stop pursuing pointless avenues at the expense of letting the larger issues slide.

It's time America got its priorities straight. We've got bigger problems; just legalize pot already.

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Jessica Fritz

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